Re: [ox-en] Stock Markets and a GPL Society
- From: Stefan Merten <smerten oekonux.de>
- Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2002 18:49:38 +0100
Hi Russell and all!
Ok, I'll try to catch up a bit ;-) .
3 weeks (25 days) ago Russell McOrmond wrote:
On Fri, 21 Dec 2001, Stefan Merten wrote:
Stock markets as they are today are based on money. In a GPL society
money would be not needed, so there is no base for stock markets as we
know them. After all money constitutes - and is constituted by -
coercion / power and these things limit self-unfolding.
I don't know if this is being explained well, if I am understanding it
right, or if possibly I disagree.
For sure we have not yet a common understanding of all this. And
though for sure we may disagree on many points IMHO a common
understanding is something we should strive for.
The Stock Market has a number of components:
- there is the shared-ownership aspect which for some physical resources
(IE: computers) will still make sense, although I believe
worker-cooperatives are a better model than traditional shareholder-owned
This presumes the concept of ownership which I can't recognize in Free
Software. So, if we think about a society based on the principles of
Free Software it is at least not simply given, that the concept of
ownership is a useful one.
IMHO we would need to clarify what ownership means to us and look for
what is useful and what isn't in a society beyond the dominance of
money. But that would be an own thread.
- there is the capital-investment. With the orders-of-magnitude lower
cost of entry into a "Free Software" styled marketplace, people can grow
their personal businesses without the need for external loans or
investments or other forms of large debt (which leads to the
coercion/power that is being discussed here - let's not even talk about
how this is playing out currently with what is being done to countries
I think the core of this point is the distribution of capital /
societal wealth / resources. In Free Software the resources needed to
produce it are relatively few - at least in Western countries.
However, this is not true for every useful thing in the world. There
are a number of things which need a considerable societal effort to
create them. For instance big infrastructure like roads, railways,
To put this in the context of a society based on self-unfolding, this
would mean, that an individual or a group of individuals needs a
certain amount of resources which are not readily available - i.e.
they are scarce. So the question boils down to how about deciding
about the (remaining) scarce goods.
- there is the gambling component - Most societies are starting to
recognize that gambling can lead to addictions and other dependencies, and
lump this as a health issue. It is unfortunate that far too few people
recognize that our economies are "sick" for the same reason why we
consider people who hang out in casinos all day are "sick".
In many (most?) cases, this gambling component far outstrips the other
two components by several orders of magnitude, and many people blame
"money" itself for this sickness. Money is just an accounting system, and
regardless of what economic system one has there will be some form of
money/accounting, even if it looks nothing like money does today.
The most important point to me here is, that you it is possible to
gamble at all with such things. After all this gambling can ruin
*other* people or whole countries in hours. I think this is possible
because of the alienation inherent in money.
I would like a society, where the use value of things dominates. If
you have to decide whether say people have clean water or not and what
would be needed to have this, this is a totally different decision
than to decide whether I can draw some profit from a financial
transaction with shares of a water provider. The first type of
decision I think is what will be needed as long as mankind exists. The
second type of decision IMHO should vanish as quickly as possible.
IE: I'm a fan of LETS type systems that don't have interest, and assumes
that 'balance' is zero. Having a small negative-or-positive balance is
what is good, with large numbers in either direction being recognized as
equally a problem to the community.
Well, I don't like LETS because they don't abolish exchange and the
alienation always inherent in exchange. But meanwhile we have some
important LETS people here, so I think we'll discuss this in another
P.S. I've been mostly just reading this forum. I'm not sure I'm on the
same wavelength as others here and have my own thoughts of what I would
consider a "GPL society". I like the whole self-unfolding concept, but
find that there are too many traditional industrial left-and-right beliefs
that are still being discussed here as well. In essence, we may look
abstractly at older ideas to look for wisdom that still applies, but
believe that we would be best to avoid constraining ourselves too much
based on economic and other models that quite possibly do not apply at all
to a post-Industrial economy.
Well, everyone is biased in the one or other direction. On the German
list we have lots of different biases and IMHO the discussion is most
fruitful when we try to understand what others are saying from their
background. That means, that we need to clarify the backgrounds and to
explore them in the light of the context we're having in this project.
This *is* a considerable effort sometimes.
It seems clear to me, that if we are looking for a new society, we
need to challenge virtually everything we know and to rethink it in
the new context. The guiding principles in this project by definition
are those of Free Software and it is amazing how often it is possible
to draw conclusions from rethinking old concepts with Free Software in
Mit Freien Grüßen